The Prince Who Found Two Wives





There was once a Raja who had an only son. When the Prince grew up the

courtiers proposed to the Raja that he should arrange for his son's

marriage; the Raja however wished to postpone it for a time. So the

courtiers used to laugh and say to the Prince "Wait a little and

we will find you a couple of wives;" the young man would answer,

"What is that? I can find them for myself. If you offered to find me

ten or twelve wives there would be something in it." The Raja heard

of his boasting like this and was very angry and said "Well if he is

so sure that he can find a wife for himself, let him do it;" and he

took no further steps to arrange for his son's marriage.



Now the Prince had a most beautiful voice and used also to play on

the one-stringed lute. He used often to sit up half the night singing

and playing to himself. One night as he sat singing, he heard a laugh

and looking round saw a beautiful bonga girl. He asked who she was

and how she had come there, and she told him that she lived close

by and could not help coming to see who it was, who was singing so

beautifully. After that she used to visit the Prince every night,

but always disappeared before dawn. This went on for some weeks

and then the Prince asked her to stay and be his wife. She agreed,

provided he would first go to her home and see her relations. So

the next night he went with her; and found that her father was also

a Raja and very rich. He stayed there three or four days; while his

mysterious disappearance caused the greatest consternation at his own

home. However he returned quietly by night and was found sleeping as

usual in his bed one morning. Then he told his parents all that had

happened and how he had left his wife behind at her father's house.



Two or three days later the Prince fell very ill: every sort of remedy

was tried in vain. As he grew worse and worse, one day a messenger came

from his father-in-law and offered to cure him if he were removed to

his wife's house. So he was carried thither and when he arrived he

found that his wife was also very ill; but directly he was brought

to where she lay, at the mere sight of each other they both became

well again.



After some months the Prince and his wife set out to return to their

own home. They were benighted on the way; so they tied their horses

to a tree and prepared to camp under it. The Prince went to a bazar

to buy provisions and while there, was arrested on a false charge

and was sent to prison. The Princess waited and waited and at last

felt sure that something must have detained him against his will. She

would not leave the spot, and to make it less likely that she should

be molested, she dressed herself as a man.



Some days passed and the Prince did not return; then one morning an

old woman passing by came and asked for a light for her hookah, and

stayed talking for some time. The old woman was struck by the sweet

face and gentle voice of the stranger, and on her return told the

daughter of the Raja of that country that there was a strange young

man, who looked and talked very differently from any of the young men

of that neighbourhood. The Raja's daughter was curious to see him,

and the next morning she went with the old woman and talked with the

disguised Princess. Before she left she was deeply in love with him,

and directly she reached home she sent word to her father that she

had seen the man whom she must marry. "It is of no use to thwart

one's children," said the Raja and at once sent messengers to bring

the stranger to marry his daughter.



When the disguised Princess was brought before the Raja, she said

that she had no objection to being married provided that it was done

according to the custom of her own country, and that was that the

vermilion should be applied to the bride's forehead with a sword. The

Raja made no objection; so the Princess took her husband's sword and

put vermilion on it and then applied it to the bride's forehead; and

so the marriage was complete. But when the Princess was left alone

with her bride, she confessed that she was a woman and told her all

her history and how her husband had disappeared in the bazar.



Then the Raja's daughter went to her father and told him what had

happened and had enquiries made and speedily had the Prince released

from prison. Then the prince himself again put vermilion on the

forehead of the Raja's daughter, and a few days later set off home

with both his wives. This was the way in which he found two wives

for himself, as he had boasted that he would.





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